Golden Age of Piracy

Events

Buccaneer Period

Approx. 1650 - Approx. 1680

This was the first period of the Golden Age of Piracy, where buccaneers were dominate and generally preceded the era of privateering and piracy ten years before "proper" pirates came to dominance, (Rideker, 9).

English Invasion of Jamaica

1655

This event was kick-started by Oliver Cromwell's venture into the Caribbean to establish an English presence in the West Indies, effectively bringing English massive amounts of trade and commerce to the region, making it a prime location for piracy, (Kuhn, 13).

Treaty of The Hague

1673

With this treaty, the Dutch were the first to formally cease using privateering, with Britain and France joining in the later decades of the seventeenth century, (Kuhn, 14).

Treator of Windsor

1680

The English follow the Dutch in attempting to end the use of privateering, (Kuhn, 14).

"Proper Pirates" Emerge

Approx. 1690 - Approx. 1700

The term "proper pirates" distinguishes them from privateers that were employed by governments. These pirates eventually had little to no affiliation with any nations or governments, and are the pirates most often associated with the Golden Age of Piracy, (Kuhn, 14).

Captain William Kidd's Privateering Expedition

1696 - 1699

Captain William Kidd was a privateer who turned pirate and was eventually executed in later years. He is one infamous example of the trend from privateering to piracy during the Golden Age of Piracy, (Thomson, 49).

Treaty of Ryswick

1697

This treaty wrapped up the War of the League of Augsburg, ending France's participation in privateering which eventually ends the privateering period of the Golden Age of Piracy to leave "proper" pirates in dominance, (Kuhn, 14).

Piracy Act of 1698

1698

"An Act for the more effectual Suppression of Piracy"
This British legislation brought harsher punishments for seamen that were ineffective in the defense of a ship during a pirate attack, while providing benefits for the seaman and his family if wounded during such an attack. This legislation focused on how individual sailors fought piracy when confronted with an attack, (Rideker, 26-27).

War of Spanish Succession

1701 - 1714

With naval war came a decrease in piracy and an increase of legal sailors and privateers hired by governments to attack opponents at sea. With the end of the war, however, many seamen were left without a job as the navies of England, France, and Spain were no longer in high demand; this inevitably resulted in an another outbreak of piracy, (Kuhn, 15).

Pirate Population is at 2,000

Approx. 1720

This is the year with the highest number of active pirates, but this peak in the Golden Age of Piracy soon faces a spiraling downfall within the next half decade, (Kuhn, 18).

Pirate Captain Bartholomew Roberts Executed

Approx. 1722

One of the era's most prosperous pirates was executed along with 52 of his crew members with the rest of the crew being imprisoned. This event marks the down-spiral of the Golden Age of Piracy, (Kuhn, 21).

Pirate Population drops to 1,000

Approx. 1723

Thanks to newly implemented anti-piracy legislation, pardons, and the removal of corrupted officials, and as a last resort, executions, piracy turns into a business that held little profit and too high a risk, leading many pirates to abandon the life, (Thomson, 50-53).

Captain William Fly Executed in Boston

Approx. 1726

This execution marks the end of the Golden Age of Piracy with less than 200 pirates left, (Kuhn, 17).